Prime Minister Narendra Modi is busy building his team of civil servants in Delhi. And it has a strong Gujarat connection.
Two more Gujarat cadre IAS officers were appointed to the Centre this week amid signs that the next few rounds of bureaucratic reshuffle would see an influx of civil servants from Modi’s home state. The PM already has a handful of them in his office, beginning with his man Friday, additional principal secretary PK Mishra.
Gujarat-cadre officer AK Singh is a frontrunner to head the Special Protection Group that protects the PM and former PMs.
“He (Modi) had promised not to shake the boat for the civil service. He kept his word and is making the changes gradually... as and when vacancies come up,” said a senior government official.
On Tuesday, Modi took one more step. He tasked 1980-batch Vijya Laxmi Joshi, who handled energy and petrochemical portfolios in Gujarat, to head the drinking water and sanitation department that will deliver on his promise for Swacch Bharat.
Also in Modi’s Delhi team will be 1982-batch Tapan Ray who will move into the IT ministry as additional secretary. Like most of his batchmates, Ray – who commissioned Gujarat’s project at KG basin gas production – would move up the bureaucratic hierarchy and get to independently head a department by next year.
Back in Gujarat, there are others waiting to migrate to Delhi’s power circles such as Modi’s former principal secretary Hasmukh Adhia and Ahmedabad municipal commissioner Guruprasad Mohapatra.
Adhia had moved into the Gujarat CM’s office in 2004 to succeed Mishra, who now plays a key role in overseeing Modi’s governance initiatives and selecting officers with a track record to deliver.
Officials say this is one reason why Modi’s team also has a fair sprinkling of officers from Mishra’s home state of Odisha.
Former personnel secretary AN Tiwari said it wasn’t unusual if officers with links to Gujarat and Odisha were getting prized postings. The UPA I too had officers with their roots in Kerala.
“The tendency often is to go for officers you are comfortable with,” said Tiwari, attributing the trend to “human instinct rather than design”.
(Inputs from Mahesh Langa in Ahmedabad)